Laramie, Wyo. – On the final day of play at the UniWyo Wyoming Invite, Furman volleyball rallied from an 0-2 deficit to defeat Gonzaga, 3-2 (31-33, 25-20, 21-25, 27-25, 15-11), before falling to tournament-host Wyoming, 3-1 (17-25, 19-25, 29-27, 9-25) on Saturday night. The Paladins (6-4) return to South Carolina having won five of their last six matches.
The early game against Gonzaga was one of the Paladins' most exciting of the year, marking their sixth-straight five-set match and fifth-straight five-set win. Furman was led by Andrea Fisher, who put down a career-high 25 kills (.300 hitting percentage) with eight digs and two service aces. Amelia Bohlander and Ashton Gregory each added seven kills and eight blocks (a career high for Bohlander), while Christen Sikora put down nine kills and a .533 hitting percentage. Meg DeMaar recorded another 20+ dig game with 25 and Jo Wilks turned in 55 assists.
The teams traded points all through set one, with no team getting a larger lead than four, until Furman called a timeout leading 23-22. Furman and Gonzaga then traded points 16 times before the Bulldogs finished off the set with two straight points to take an exciting set one, 33-31.
Furman held on to multiple two point leads in set two until the Paladins stretched the lead to three at 19-16. Following a service error, Gonzaga then used a 7-1 run to close out set two, 25-20, and take a 2-0 lead in the match.
The Paladins again opened the early led in set two, pulling out to a 14-9 advantage. Four-straight Bulldog points forced a Furman timeout, and the Paladins were able to hold off that Gonzaga rally and continue to stretch their lead, forcing a Bulldog timeout at 22-17. Furman had set point at 24-18 and eventually closed it out on a kill by Andrea Fisher to take set three, 25-21, and force a fourth set.
The teams traded points again in set four, before Furman was the first to call a timeout after Gonzaga cut the Paladin lead to one at 13-12. The teams went back and forth again until it was the Bulldogs who called a timeout, trailing Furman 21-18. Gonzaga pulled to within three again at 24-21, before scoring three-straight points to tie the game at 24. Furman capitalized on a Gonzaga service error and two Christen Sikora kills to take set four, 27-25, and push the set to a fifth game, for the sixth match in a row.
It was Gonzaga who opened up the early lead in set five, but following a timeout, Furman used an 8-3 run to take an 13-10 lead. The Bulldogs came out of their timeout and cut the lead to two at 13-11, but a Gregory/Bohlander block and a Bulldog error gave the Paladins the set five win, 15-11, and push their match winning streak to five.
Ashton Gregory led the Paladins in the night cap against Wyoming with 17 kills, a .364 hitting percentage and six blocks. Andrea Fisher turned in 11 kills and nine digs, while Christen Sikora and Kasey Hohlen and six and five digs, respectively. Meg DeMaar turned in another double-digit dig performance with 16 and Jo Wilks tallied 38 assists.
Wyoming took the first two sets, 25-17 and 25-19, to put Furman in an 0-2 hole once again. The Cowgirls continued to hold the momentum in set three, taking a 6-1 lead until Furman battled back with a 7-1 run to take an 8-7 lead and force a Wyoming timeout. The teams traded points until Furman used a 4-0 run to push their lead to 16-12 to force another Cowgirl timeout. Furman pushed the lead to 20-16 before Wyoming battled back to tie the match at 20. The teams traded points 14 times until Furman used an Andrea Fisher kill and Wyoming attack error to take set three, 29-27, and force a fourth.
The Cowgirls dominated set four, 25-9, to win the match, 3-1, and halt Furman's five-game winning streak.
The Paladins are back in action on Thursday, September 18, as they travel to Clinton, S.C., to face Presbyterian College at 7:00 p.m.